Sunday, August 12, 2007

Breakdown & Rehab insurance devised for blissed-out Israeli backpackers who vanish

It's become a rite of passage. Israeli youth, who are required to serve two to three years in the army, take time off afterward to backpack around the world and just "chill". You'll easily spot these fit young Sabras unwinding-- mainly in Asia or
Latin America. Often Israelis stick together during their months-long holidays and they are apt to bargain fiercely to save the odd rupee and turn up their noses at spicy local cuisine to insist on Israeli-style snacks. Budget guest houses in Goa, India or Ko Samui, Thailand cater to them with signs and menus lettered in Hebrew. Adventures and new freedom sometimes tempt Israeli youth to go astray, by experimenting with cults or drugs, and every year thousands bliss out or simply vanish, much to their family's dismay. The backpackers compound post traumatic stress syndrome from army service with sensory overload and culture shock. Adulterated drugs, bad company, and bad judgment play a role, too.
According to journalist Conal Urquhart,

Now an Israeli insurance company is offering a unique policy to parents to cover a professional search team, repatriation and psychiatric rehabilitation for their missing children.

About 50,000 Israelis a year go trekking after their military service and before university or work. The Israeli charity War on Drugs estimates that 90 per cent take drugs at least once on their travels. Some two-thirds go to the Far East and about a third to South America. The charity estimates that each year 2,000 travellers suffer
mental illness brought on by drug abuse or spiritual confusion and between 600 and 800 are admitted to psychiatric wards.

Phoenix Insurance Israel offers a £100 policy to parents to cover most of the costs of rescue and treatment over 90 days. Repatriation alone can cost as much as £8,000...

The new policy was initiated by Hilik Magnum, who has operated a search and rescue company for 13 years. 'We started by providing search and rescue services in the Himalayas and other mountains, but what started as a pure search and rescue operation became an intelligence operation,' he said. 'Young people get involved in some kind of drug abuse in their travels and they lose contact with their parents, they contact us and we help get them back to their family.'

Magnum says deals regularly with psychotics, and returns them to Omri Frisch's therapy center for off-the-rails Israelis, located in the seaside town of Caesaria. It's called Kfar Izun, or Village Balance.
'Most of our patients are well-educated or served in high-profile units in the army such as intelligence and combat. We offer treatment instead of hospitalisation. A recent study found that 94 per cent of our patients achieve some degree of improvement,' Frisch told the London Observer.

Last December, Israel's government announced plans to open its own drug rehab centre in Goa, India, to treat youthful budget travellers. Officials estimate that 2,000 out of the 40,000 Israelis who visit India every year dabble in illegal drugs, mostly hashish, ecstasy, opium, or heroin.

Annually, some 600 Israeli backpackers return from India with physical damage caused by drugs. A Goan centre called Beit Ha Haam (the warm house) now has backing from the Israel Drug Authority. Most families prefer to have their kids repatriated back to Israel, no matter what the cost.


Lek from Chiang Mai said...

SuWaDee Izzy Bee,
Many of these Israelis are oppressors, and must work out their post-Army kinks in 3rd world countries like mine. En masse, they aren't liked v. much, because of their superiority complex.
If this gets punctured, some do go nuts. I have seen it.
But choosing to be a Bu-Jew, or a Jew gone Buddhist or Hindu or whatever need not be cause for alarm. Some of these backpackers actually need to be a way awhile

Happy Kitten said...

Well.. ur kinsmen have been in India since many years....specially Kochi/Cochin....

It is good for the youngsters to get out of Israel and know the world that has changed with the changing times... there will be more understanding of the current issues..

Thanks for passing by my blog.. d keep visiting